A couple enjoy the beach at Cancun
Ian Packham

Visiting Cancun in May

Although it’s the official start of the wet season, you shouldn’t be put off from visiting Cancun in May. The prevailing climate is still very much geared towards enjoying the city’s spectacular coastal attractions, from its ancient Mayan sites to over 22 kilometers of beaches on the Caribbean Sea.

So why not let us guide you through the very best things to do in Cancun in May? First though, we describe one of the most important aspects of heading to Cancun at this time of year – what to expect from the weather.

Cancun weather in May

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Yes, May 1 is the date marked in Cancun diaries as the first day of the rainy season. No, this doesn’t mean you’ll be faced with 12 hours of wall-to-wall rain if you decide to visit Cancun in May – the sun still makes its presence felt most days.

Thunderstorms are most common towards the end of the month, and even then tend to be short, heavy showers. They affect life on the streets for just a couple of hours in the late afternoon. Evenings are generally balmy with clear skies once more.

Although May is one of the most humid times of year in Cancun, if you’re sticking to the coast you’ll hardly even notice. Temperatures here are 1 – 2°C lower than inland areas – where temperatures range from 23 – 33°C – since the sea breeze helps whip away the muggy air.

Say hi to the local wildlife

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Plan your vacation to Cancun in May and you won’t be the only new arrivals in town. The turquoise waters immediately out to sea also welcome whale sharks from May through September.

The world’s largest fish, these gentle giants feed on nothing but plankton. Measuring up to 18 meters in length, swimming or snorkeling close to them is a magical experience whatever your age, and easy to organize too.

Other arrivals include endangered green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles. Snorkelers can find them relaxing amidst the shallows of the Grand Mayan (Mesoamerican) Reef, sweeping down from Cancun to the central Americas.

But even if you keep your feet firmly dry, it’s possible to witness them after dark as they bury their eggs on the beaches of Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres, where you can also encounter manatees. Roughly 30 minutes from mainland Cancun by ferry, the journey is even more memorable on your own crewed catamaran.

Experience the strip

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For a slice of local life, head away from the high-rise towers of the beachside hotel zone for downtown Cancun. It’s home to Cancun’s best shopping – the famous Mercado 28 market and the giant Plaza Las Americas shopping mall.

But the downtown area is not just a shopper’s delight. It also has a charming lagoon-side promenade, the Malecon Tajamar, where you’ll find many families enjoying the coastal breezes long into the night.

The center of Cancun’s legendary nightlife remains firmly within the main strip that forms the hotel zone. For many it focusses on Coco Bongo and the similar sounding Bar Congo, who both have a legion of fans taking to their dance floors for live DJ sets on a nightly basis.

If your clubbing days are behind you, there’s still plenty to entertain you within the hotel zone. For instance, beside the stores of La Isla sits the La Gran Rueda Cancun Ferris wheel. Open from the early afternoon until late evening each day, its gondolas bring you high above the hubbub of street level to spectacular views across the coast.

Discover Cancun’s Mayan history

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Cancun’s Caribbean shores aren’t the only way to experience sparkling waters. This region of coast is also home to a miraculous series of natural sinkholes formed by freshwater dissolving the limestone rock over thousands of years.

Known as cenotes (say-no-tays), there are around 30,000 in total, and every one offers something slightly different. Filled with crystal clear waters, they are the perfect place to cool off.

Ranging in size from a couple of meters wide to the size of a football field, some of their pools are large enough to have become populated by fish, whilst others provide dramatic stalactite and stalagmite formations beyond the dense foliage and vines of the surrounding jungle. Amongst the best – Aktun Ha and Oxman cenotes.

Considered sacred by the Maya, cenotes are not the only part of Mayan culture to slip into the life of modern-day Cancun. Another is the temazcal ceremony, which lurks somewhere between revered rite, spa treatment and sweat lodge.

Most comparable to the sauna experience, steam scented with herbs such as copal and sage is produced by pouring water over hot stones. Often accompanied by shamanic chants, sessions last around two hour and relax you in body and mind, as well as drawing toxins out of your body.

To dodge the afternoon showers that can affect Cancun in May, head to the city’s Maya Museum (Museo Maya). Filled with natural light, its contemporary design ensures its many treasures are displayed at their very best.

A path also leads from the museum through the jungle to San Miguelito, a ruined settlement containing temples, pyramids and the remains of homely dwellings.

Festival fever

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If the point of your vacation in Cancun is to let your hair down and forget your worries, you’ve certainly come to the right place. One of the top things to do during the evening hours is to join the Xoximilco party boat.

Taking its lead from the cultural traditions of the country, step aboard and you’ll discover a brightly-colored world of live music, tasty foods, singing and dancing. The region’s cuisine is also centerstage during May’s Food and Wine Festival, attracting many of the top chefs in the area.

The most important date in the calendar when it comes to music has to be the US Memorial Day Weekend, preceding the last Monday of the month. The long weekend sees the arrival of Cancun Jumpoff, one of the world’s largest urban electronic music festivals.

Save on attraction admission in Cancun in May!

Although your mind might have already turned to all things beachwear, don’t forget the one very easy way to make the most of your vacation – and make significant savings to – Go City! Explore with Go City and you’ll have access to many of Cancun’s top attractions without losing the flexibility you’re sure to crave!

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